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On Tuesday, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine says he plans to take “a couple of deep breaths.”
By then, the inauguration will be over — and so will his first three weeks on the job.
Dine was air-dropped into the final days of complex law enforcement preparations for the biggest event in Washington, which also happened to coincide with his start date as the leader of a force of about 1,775 sworn officers and 370 civilian employees.
But while this might seem like a nightmare scenario, Dine didn’t seem too fazed when he sat down last week for his first interview since arriving on the job.
While calling the ordeal “very, very busy,” Dine also threw out words like “splendidly,” “invigorating” and “challenging” to describe his time so far.
There haven’t been any surprises because he didn’t join the Capitol Police with preconceived notions, he explained. And he couldn’t describe a typical day on the job because every day is different.
“The thing we all love about police work is you never know what’s gonna happen in the next five minutes,” he said.
Leaning back in his chair with one leg crossed over the other, the bald and mustachioed Dine was quick with a joke and, if he had any anxiety about what lies ahead of him on Inauguration Day and beyond — restoring confidence within the ranks, preparing a budget in a tight fiscal environment — he didn’t betray any of it.
It helps that he’s not entirely new to inaugural preparations: Before joining the Capitol Police and prior to heading the Police Department of Frederick, Md., Dine spent decades with the District’s Metropolitan Police Department, where he frequently collaborated with Capitol Police officers. From 1998 to 2001, he was the commander of the First District, which includes the Capitol campus.
He also has experience as a “fixer” for ailing police agencies. He entered the Frederick department when crime was rampant, the community was mistrustful and the morale within the rank and file was low. By the time he left, his name was bandied about as a possible mayoral candidate of the now-thriving Washington exurb. Such a history could ease him into tackling some of the ill will among officers that followed the retirement of Dine’s predecessor, former Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse, last spring.
Dine didn’t share many ideas for what he might like to do differently with the department now that he’s in charge or where there are obvious areas for improvement.
“You need to respect the culture, and part of the challenge is, the things that are working well — let ’em work well,” he said. “They don’t write a lot about that in management books.
“It’s not my nature nor style to just come in and do stuff,” he said.
But Dine does want to do more to highlight the agency’s unique responsibility and heritage. From his chair in his still-bare office at Capitol Police headquarters, he pointed across the room to a whiteboard on which was scrawled “USCP — America’s Police Department.”
It’s poised to become the force’s new slogan.
“Historically, the agency has been low-key, and I think everybody likes it that way, so we don’t do a lot of advertising about all the things we do,” Dine said. But “it’s important for people to know about the agency.”
“We protect the people up here,” he explained. “We protect the people, the buildings, the whole campus. And we protect, most of all, the process that runs this country. What other department can say they’re America’s police department?”
His officers will have a chance to show just how unique they are on Monday, Dine said.
“It’s a history-making event,” Dine said of the inauguration. “We tell our officers — which is true for all officers but especially our officers — on these big events that the eyes of the world are on them. That’s not just some trite phrase. The whole world will be watching us. The entire world.”